Madagascan Elemi (Canarium Madagascariense) is a tropical tree from the vast island of Madagascar that can grow up to around 30 metres in height. It exudes a brownish to black resin which is known locally as Ramy or Mpafu.
It is rare
The resin is brown to black in hue, and has a thick, hard and waxy like consistency. The highly aromatic essential oil from it is steam distilled from the resin. Elemi is a very fragrant resin with a sharp woody, slightly resinous cedar like scent with a vague hint of citrus lemon. One of the resin components is called amyrin. The resin will liquify readily and produces a very clear, virually smokeless scent when heated over a hotplate. It is obviously more smoky when burnt over charcoal.
The resin is chiefly used commercially in varnishes and lacquers, and certain printing inks. It is used as a herbal medicine to treat bronchitis, catarrh, extreme coughing, mature skin, scars, stress, and wounds. The constituents include phellandrene, limonene, elemol, elemicin, terpineol, carvone, and terpinolene.
History of Elemi:
The word Elemi has been used at various times to denote different resins. In the 17th and 18th centuries the term usually denoted a resin from trees of the genus Icica in Brazil, and before that it meant the resin derived from Boswellia Frereana (otherwise known as Frankincense Maydhi (Maydi) to which is is sometimes thought to have a similar aroma).
The word, like the older term Animi appears to have been derived from enhaemon, the name of a styptic medicine said by Pliny to contain tears exuded by the olive tree of Arabia.
“The name Elemi is derived from an Arabic phrase meaning ‘above and below’, an abbreviation of ‘As above, so below’